KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Republican Brown Wins Massachusetts Senate Seat

The Boston Globe: "Republican Scott Brown tonight pulled off one of the biggest upsets in Massachusetts political history, defeating Democrat Martha Coakley to become the state's next United States senator and potentially derailing President Obama's hopes for a health care overhaul." The race was called with 73 percent of precincts reporting. Brown had 53 percent of the vote to Coakley's 46 percent" (Viser and Estes, 1/19).

The New York Times: "The election left Democrats in Congress scrambling to salvage a bill overhauling the nation's health care system, which the late Mr. Kennedy had called 'the cause of my life.' Mr. Brown has vowed to oppose the bill, and once he takes office the Democrats will lose their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate." Beyond the health overhaul effort, the election outcome is also viewed as a reproach of President Obama's first year in office (Cooper, 1/19).

Los Angeles Times: "Even before the polls closed, Republicans received a bit of good news. Secretary of State William Galvin said he would declare an unofficial winner as quickly as possible. Senate rules require that a senator be certified by the state before he or she can be sworn in. Brown had charged that Democrats would stall as long as possible to allow Kirk to cast a vote in favor of the healthcare bill" (Oliphant and Barabak, 1/19).

The Washington Post: "Brown will give Republicans a 41st seat in the Senate, robbing Democrats of the filibuster-proof majority the party had used to pass President Obama's health care plan late last year. In the immediate lead-up to tonight's vote, Democrats ... insisted that the party would move forward on health care but it is unclear whether that bravado will carry over in the coming days as the party seeks to deal with Coakley's stunning upset (Cillizza, 1/19).

Politico: Some House members were already saying Tuesday night that they were not interested in "approving the already-passed Senate version of health reform in the House," which was one of the often-mentioned strategies discussed when Brown's victory was only a possibility. An idea now being floated is "a two-step process – passing the Senate bill in the House in step one, then passing a second 'clean-up' bill to fix the things in the Senate bill that House members don't like." The Senate, Politico notes, would then use reconciliation to pass the clean-up measure so that it would only require 51 votes. "But the deep resistance to the Senate bill among many House members shows that even this legislative tactic would be difficult to pull off" (Budoff Brown and O'Connor, 1/19). 

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